Family sues Houston topless bar


by Jeremy Desel / 11 News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 6:30 PM

HOUSTON -- Mattie Jean Johnson still grieves. She claims that a topless dancer from Rick's was drunk when she killed her son. But she doesn't blame the dancer; she blames the club.

Family sues Houston topless bar
November 11, 2008

"If they gave her a lift, or called her a cab or something, my son would be here. He would be here today with me," said Johnson.

It's been nearly a year since she lost her son, Clinton Washington. He died trying to help another person.

Last New Year's Eve, Washington pulled over on the North Freeway to help after he saw a rollover accident. He was next to his cab, calling for help, when he was hit by a SUV driven by Micaela Liem.

According to police, Liem's blood alcohol level was 0.215.

"They get the ladies dancing there, drunk," said Johnson.

The Johnson's are filing a civil suit against Liem, but they are also suing Rick's Caberet International.

Liem worked at the Rick's north location as a dancer. The lawsuit claims that Rick's is as much at fault for Washington's death as Liem.

"As an employer, it encourages its employees to drink. It gives them incentives to drink. If it is going to do that, it has a responsibility not only to its dancers, but to the public at large to make sure that those dancers are not overly intoxicated when they get on the roadway," said Hank Stout, attorney.

The suit claims that dancers are not just encouraged to drink with patrons, but that successful employment there depends on it. In other words, Rick's is making money by encouraging and providing for the overconsumption of alcohol.

"My son was a good boy and a good man. He helped everybody," said Johnson. "He loved doing things for people. It made him feel good."

Mattie Johnson's son lost his life while helping someone. Now his mother wants to help others by ensuring no one else has to endure the same loss that she has.

Rick's company spokesperson said that it was aware of the lawsuit, but at this time, the company has no comment on pending litigation.

In the meantime, Micaela Liem is due back in criminal court on November 14. She is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge.